As an eCommerce business owner, you’re constantly juggling multiple platforms and channels at once. The internal elements of your business require clown-on-a-bicycle levels of balance, and the moment communication between any element breaks down, your metaphorical clown is straight to the floor.
The reason integration tools are so popular with multichannel sellers is because they act as a mode of streamlining between different channels and platforms, reducing repetitive manual data entry and maintaining consistency. This might sound heavenly. Multiple channels and processes seamlessly integrated in one cohesive interface. Sign me up. The only issue to contend with is that in the magical world of integration tools ‘fully comprehensive’ rarely, if ever, means ‘fully comprehensive’.
So let’s get to the bottom of this…
Comprehensive integration software connects an expansive selection of business elements. The good news is that they do exist; the bad news is that there will – no matter how much prospective providers try to assure you otherwise – always be holes and gaps in this integration coverage. When choosing an integration tool, you’ll need to be aware of two things:
1) What are your ‘must have’ business processes that you need integrated?
2) What businesses can be compromised, not part of the integration, that you can live without?
In other words, what holes in coverage would impinge upon your ability to scale, and therefore be critical for your business growth?
It might be difficult to know where to start on a list like this. There are hundreds of elements to consider – from the more substantial business processes such as integrating multiple sales channels that draw on one inventory pool, to the more minute details such as creating a reminder to restock a product when sales velocity exceeds expectation.
In order to build an understanding of what’s most important for the seamless running of your business, you’ll want to think of these elements within a larger grouping. We’d recommend grouping them into the following schools of thought:
If you’re a multichannel eCommerce seller, this is likely to be your highest priority. Marketplaces and web store platforms are notorious for having individual specifications and processes for listing products, fulfilling orders, and so on. Integrating sales channels means centralising all product listings into one system. Once your sales channels are properly integrated, stock levels and pricing updates will be automated across all the places you sell.
Shipping and logistics can be one of the more complex operations of your business, particularly when sales come from different sources and you have a range of different rules governing which shipping you want to use under what circumstances. Fulfilment centres rely on efficient integrations with seamless data feeds in both directions to run effectively.
It’s becoming increasingly important to support multiple forms of payment for a frictionless transaction experience. Customers now expect seamless payment processes for all online purchases – even the smallest of hindrances can put a customer off. Integrating several payment options is likely to be an important integration factor.
This is particularly prevalent for brands using a multichannel sales strategy. Real-time visibility of inventory stock levels gives context to product performance and prevents overselling.
Customer service integration streamlines the software you use to manage your customer communications, both at the marketing stage and once sales have been made.
Creating reports that encompass information across multiple channels is essential for any business looking to scale. Reporting can be immensely time-consuming. Integrated analytics/reports deliver actionable insights on growth opportunities.
McKinsey reported that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions. Consumers have come to expect a personalised marketing experience. This can apply to several channels, however, it is particularly important in email marketing efforts. Creating automated email marketing campaigns based on user behaviours engages your potential customer base and can have a hugely positive effect on revenue.
When we scratch the surface of what can be integrated, we develop an understanding of what our business should be integrating. Bespoke and customisable integrations are the most effective way of ensuring the ‘must haves’ of your business requirements are accounted for. We recommend all businesses looking to integrate systems which streamline their operations and scale their growth create a clear and detailed list of integration needs before discussing with a potential provider.
Get in touch to find out more about Volo integrations.